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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  March 8, 2010 2:10am-3:10am EST

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captions paid for by nbc-universal television this sunday, health care reform's final act. >> i do not know how this plays politically, but i know it's right. >> the president makes one last push. >> the united states congress owes the american people an up or down vote. >> will members of his own party provide the necessary votes. we discuss the politics, the policy and the end game with secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius. then the political stakes in 2010 and beyond for the obama presidency.
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health care, ethics scandal hurting two prominent democrats, plus the great recession's crippling toll. the jobless rate is unchanged for february, and housing has yet to rebound. can washington find a way to work together to do some good? joining us, senator orrin hatch, republican at utah, former congressman from tennessee, democrat harold ford, e.j. dionne, columnist for "the washington post," and rich lowry, editor of the "national review." first, the final push for health care reform. joining us live this morning the secretary of health and human services kathleen sebelius. welcome back to "meet the press." >> thank you. nice to be here. >> end game time. the president talked about it this week. this is what he said. >> every idea has been put on the table. every argument has been made. everything there is to say about
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health care has been said and just about everybody has said it. >> he said with it a smile but making a serious point. this is really the end of the line for the debate and here are two facts. most people who have health insurance like what they have, and, a majority of americans oppose this president's version of health care reform. how realistically do you get this done? >> i think, david, what we're hearing from people across america is even people who have insurance are terrified what's going on in t marketplace, opening their statements, seeing these incredible rate increases if they are not protected by a large employer, going on across the country. we got a goldman sachs analyst who said that the market competition is decreasing in this country, that in the individual market, in the small group market where small employers are absolutely caught, they have no choice. and they are getting increasingly frustrated. so i think we know what doing nothing looks like and it looks
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pretty scary. 15,000 people a day lose their insurance and some of those folks are being priced out of the marketplace. >> that's usually the basis for the president saying the american people don't want us to wait. but where is the evidence of that? certainly we can all talk to people who don't like their situation or who are worried or going through difficult times but ain, a fact is that a majority of americans, after everybody has said everything as the president said, don't sport this administration's version of reform. >> i think if you say do you want, you know, some massive bill that people are a little unclear about what's in it, given the amount of misinformation they say you know, we don't know. we're unsure. you say do you want rules to change for insurance companies? do you want them to have to compete in the marketplace? you want some oversight? do you want consumer protection, they say absolutely yes. you want a different marketplace where people have choice and competition just like the members of congress have? absolutely yes. you know, i had a meeting last
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week with five of the largest insurance company ceos and we talked to them about what in the world is going on. how in the world does somebody like miss canfield who the president cited paying $6,000 in premiums, she paid $4,000 out-of-pocket, premiums went up 25% last year, the company on her behalf, she's put $10,000 of her own money on the table t. company paid out about $900 in bills, and she just got a rate increase of 40%. how in the world does that work? how does that mh work? frankly, we didn't get very good answers. >> you're pushing for more answers. >> you bet. >> what do you hope to achieve? >> i think at the very least the american public has to understand what is going on. what are the justifications for rate increases which are so far ahead of medical trends, how much of the company's collecting in overhead profit, how much are
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they paying ceos and how much are they paying in medical trends. the insurance executive said it's passing along costs but that's what the profit statements say. when profit goes up 50% from '09 to -- i mean '08 to '09. they filed $12.7 billion of profits and turn around and say we need 40% rate increases, 60% in illinois, we need at least to shine a bright light until we pass reform and change the rules. >> let me bring you back to the here and now. i have spoken to a top ally of the president on health care reform who thinks it's about a 40% chance, ultimately, of getting this done. where do you put the odds? >> i think we'll have the votes to pass comprehensive health reform. the bill has passed the house with the majority a bipartisan majority, a bill has passed the senate with a supermajority, that's never been done before. what we're talking about is the president said is finishing the
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job. and the urgency, the time table is not about some congressional time clock. it's about what's happening across this country to americans. it's about the squeeze. >> it is about a time clock for congress. you set deadlines and they slipped. if it's not done by easter will the president return to it? >> i think that we have to act on behalf of the american people. i hear from folks all over this country, i talk to a dad in chicago whose son, 11-year-old, healthy, bright, coming back from a soccer tournament, born with a heart defect. he had an operation at a month old and three, this father who is self employed, runs a small consulting company is paying $30,000 a year in health insurance premiums and doesn't know what happens next. needs some control over his own health security, over his family. >> understood. my question is does this have to be accomplished by march 18th,
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by the easter recess? is this going to get done? >> i think the president has called for an up or down vote. i'm confident that we'll have that. >> you won't set a deadline? >> i have not seat deadline. that's up to the leadership of congress. >> if it does not pass by the april break is it realistic it comes back? >> i think it's realistic because the american people are desperate. >> so the president would come back to it if it doesn't get done by the break? >> i think what's going on around the country -- i'm trying to pin you down about when it gets done. the legislative calendar does influence policy. >> right. but the time clock is not about -- what americans swant something to be done. that's what i hear. as a former governor, governors work on a very specific time table, they have to pass budgets, the legislature goes out of session, we've got to get things moving because there's an urgency about what's happening in people's lives. and we're at the final chapter here, we need an up or down vote. >> yes, no or maybe.
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do you get passage by the easter break? >> i think we'll have the vote when's the leadership decides it's time to call for the vote and i think health reform will pass. >> the issue of what's at stake is interesting. the president talked abt that. "the new york post" reported this on friday. i'll put it up. president obama pushed wavering house members to okay health care legislation for his own political standing and theirs to maintain a strong presidency we need to pass the bill, obama told liberals according to one representative who attended the meeting. to main taken a strong presidency. elaborate on that. >> well again, i think the president has laid out comprehensive health reform as a primary agenda item, not because he doesn't have good health choices or because it's easy politically. but because he feels it's fundamental to fixing the econy, and fundamental in terms -- >> to having a strong presidency is what he is reported to have said. >> i wasn't in that room.
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what i can tell you -- >> you work with him. are the stakes that high, his agenda in peril if he doesn't get this? is that what's at stake? >> i think what is in peril is health security for millions of people. small business owners currently are having to choose between hiring a worker or two or having health insurance. they are losing employees to folks down the street who have bargaining power. we have folks absolutely caught in jobs that they hate, they are terrified about losing their position. we are actually have a handicap in the economy because we haven't fixed this massive health insurance system and we've got to tackle that. i think that's what the president understands. >> deadlines have come and gone. this has gone on longer than the president want ordinary expected. ground has been lost. what mistake desire the administration make in laying out this strategy to get health care reform? >> well, i think the president from the outset was very hopeful that we would have a broad bipartisan coalition.
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that's why i think months were spent in the united states senate with six senators in a room, three republicans and three democrats, lots of good republican ideas are in the bill. help for small business owners, tax credit, selling insurance across state lines aggressively going after fraud and abuse. unfortunately, those good ideas still haven't produced republican votes but the president wants to take the best ideas from republicans and democrats, he will continue to do that and he hopes at the end of the day we'll have some republican votes along the way. >> but what missteps did the administration make? >> i think there's no question that having, you know, an issue like this on the table is complicated, it's difficult. and sometimes i think people got lost in the weeds if you will. there's a lot of technical issues here. when people understand what's in the bill, a new insurance marketplace, giving small business owners and individuals the same choices that members of
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congress have, new rules for insurance companies and david, this is a fundamental difference between republicans and democrats. they really don't believe that insurance companies should have more consumer protections, more oversight that it should change the rules and i think at the end of the day that may be the dividing line where republicans will not vote for a bill that cracks down on insurance company abuses, changes the practices. >> you had unified opposition from republicans. did youlso have a breakdown in the president and administration's communication to the american people about what the goal was and how you would get there? >> i think when you have anything that's this comprehensive, there are always strategies along the way that focus on things. we spent way too much time and energy talking about what's not in the bill, trying to tamp down some of the wild rumors, wild accusations, and i think now we've circled back to saying to people the bill is pretty simple at the end of the day.
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more focus on wellness and prevention, better choices for folks, the same choices that members of congress have in their own health plan should be given to the people who pay those bills, should be given to the american taxpayer and change the rules for insurance companies, lower the deficit, not only short-term, $100 billion, but long term, over $1 trillion. this is something that changes those cost estimates at the end of the day that really are handicapping the country's economy. >> in any role out of a sweeping policy proposal like this you set goals, set priorities. when you were last on the program in summer the first thing we talked about was the president's number one priority. he laid it out last june. >> what i've said is our top priority has to be to control costs and i said very clearly, if any bill arrives from congress that is not controlling costs that's not a bill i can support. it's going to have to control costs. >> yet, democrats i talked to,
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republicans for sure, outside experts have said frankly, this bill fails to adequately control costs. warren buffett, the billionaire investor, somebody that the president said he would listen to, spoke about the fact that it fails to really tackle costs adequately in the heah care system. he spoke this week. >> i would say that one way or another we're going to attack costs. that's a tough job. i would try to get a unified effort to say this is a national emergency to do something about this, we need the republicans, we need the democrats, we're going to cut off the 8 hundred thousand people. we're going to focus o costs and we're not going to dream up 2,000 pages of other things. >> why not focus at this point with the outcome uncertain. we're going to do a bill that
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focuses on reducing costs and then we'll come back to the idea of expanding access at a point later on when it's more politically fees snibl >> i think we definitely learned a lesson from what happened in massachusetts from the bill that former governor romney signed into law where they pushed access but didn't deal with costs at the same time. and so it's why the president has been insistent from the outset that this deal with costs. every cost cutting idea that every health economist has brought to the table is in this bill. massive changes in the delivery system, ways to discourage the kind of cadillac insurance plans being offered into the future, a fairness i terms of who's paying for health care costs. less spending in the medicare system for things that we know don't add to people's health outcomes but we're oversubsidizing insurance companies going after fraud and
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abuse which is why the president directed the attorney general, put together strike task forces, additional ideas are in there. >> you don't deal with tort reform which the president talked about. >> actually we do. that's just not true. he moved ahead on tort reform early on, directing me to put money -- well, the states are in various stages. many states like my own state of kansas have passed full tort reform. others haven't. this is really a state level situation. >> whether it comes to -- malpractice reform, whether it's volume, whether it comes to salaries for doctors, do you really assert you disagree with warren buffett that this adequately spends the cost curve? >> according to the nonpartisan accounting congressional budget office, they say we get over $100 billion in deficit savings the first ten years, and that
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ramps up as you look in the outer years to $1 trillion. i think that's real cost cutting. i think that's real change in the deficits. >> where are the cultural changes to how extensive end of life care is or how many tests e ordered by doctors, the administrative costs, in hospitals or insurance companies. >> it's all in there. there is a huge amount of administrative simplification, getting to the 30 cents of every dollar has docs filling out forms and has insurance companies providing billing over and over again. we've got huge delivery system changes so that you no longer would pay hospitals if one out of every five patients gets readmitted in 30 days. you pay for bundled careetween docs and hospitals, pay for medical homes follow-up care. we know that not only are those good for patients but hugely cost effective. they are in the best hlth care
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systems in america. and it pays for health and wellness. preventive care. >> secretary sebelius, even experts, people who run the cleveland clinic or the mayo clinic who have been on the vanguard of reducing costs they say there is only the potential for some of these to pay off in terms of you getting away from subsidizing volume. how can you assert that this bill measures up to the president's goal of bending that cost curve, bringing health care costs down? >> one of the things that we do, again, is change the insurance rules on the private sector. that will lower costs for families, lower costs for businesses. everybody says that just having a new insurance marketplace, getting rid of the cherry picking allowing insurance companies to go back and forth, not only streamlines administrative costs but lowers costs overall and we've run two of the major public health systems, changing the way
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medicare pays for medical care, that we pay for quality and not any longer by the number of tests you do. will help also drive the private market. we've got every strategy, every idea that health economists and experts say works in this bill, including a lot of measures, david, which the congressional budget office doesn't account for. they say maybe health i.t.s t uof electronic health records pays off. we know it does. they don't give credit for that. we know that investing in health and wellness works, if you have fewer diabetics, if you have fewer who smoke, you have fewer overweight and obese americans, that's going to lower costs. no skred given to that so we get right now $1 trillion over two decades in health savings without giving credit to a number of the programs. >> a couple. one has to do with how this gets paid for. that is a tax.
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excise tax on so called cadillac plans. but in the senate bill that's been put off until 2018. and the reasonable question comes up which is, do you really think a future congress which will be under a lot of pressure not to raise $1 trillion of taxes, is going to withstand that pressure, or are you going to be left where -- because this congress won't raise the tax w, they put it off to 2018 so you have all of the spending and not get any of the savings until 2018. isn't that unrealistic? >> i think two things happen right away with the way this is designed. first, it puts insurance companies who pay the tax ultimately on notice that this is coming. and they can begin to change the kind of policies that are in the market. what we want to do is change insurance company behavior which hasn't been very strategic in terms of cutting costs. as the goldman analyst said they are driving up cost, they have a market strategy that they are
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willing to dump customers and continue to raise costs so changing their behavior, putting them on notice that this is coming. if a future congress decided that this wasn't a good idea, the way the rules work, they have to come up with billions of dollars in substanceso the payment. this is subject to the pay-go bill. they don't get to cancel it and march down the road. i think that it is a good balance between getting a very effective cost strategy as part of this legislation, and putting people on notice so that their policies don't change overnight. this isn't imposed overnight but they know it's coming and we've got to change the structure. >> the issue of abortion is one that has 12 democrats who voted yes for the bill in the house previously saying they are going to vote no now. leading that charge is bart stupack from michigan, an anti-abortion congressman who doesn't want any federal money paying for abortion. >> in the senate bill, that's what they tell us the vehicle we're using, in the senate bill
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it says you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion. you must do so. also, in that same language, if you come in the senate version, in the opm, office of personal management policy they will put forth you must pay every enrollee must pay $1 per month into a fund to help fund abortions. it's very clear. >> will you make the fix that he's talking about so there is no federal money paying for abortions? >> there is no federal money paying for abortions. that's just not my statement, it is what, you know, a legal analyst who has looked at the senate bill, it's what the fact checkers who look at the statements say. i don't think there's any disagreement. bart stupack and congressman stupack and the president want health reform. he has been a strong member of
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energy and congress, wked on issues and he supports the president's notion about this. congressman stupak and the president agree. >> but they don't agree how you get it. what needs to be done, he used to abyes, he is now a no vote. how does he become a yes sflot >> i think people will continue to talk to him. i think that there is no question -- >> to try to persuade him he's wrong. >> i think there is no question that the senate bill does not provide federal funding for abortion but at the end of the day i think that we'll get to the point that there's agreement that there is no federal funding on abortion. >> he is misinformed. >> i think he is misinformed about what the senate language does but he wants comprehensive health reform. i know he has this principled issue. the president said from the outsthet is about health reform, it's not about abortion. we don't want to change the status quo.
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there are very clear rules that apply across the board on federal funding of abortion and that's what we'll have at the end of the day. >> we'll leave it there. thank you as always. up next t political stakes of this health care debate plus ethic s scandals. and the economy struggling. how will it impact the midterm elections and the future of the obama presidency. our roundtable weighs in. senator orrin hatch, former congressman harold ford jr., e.j. dionne of "the washington post," and rich lowry of national review. only on "meet the press." (announcer) we're in the energy business. but we're also in the showing-kids- new-worlds business. for-barbers business. and the this-won't- hurt-a-bit business. because we don't just work here. we live here. these are our families. and our neighbors. and by changing lives we're in more than the energy biness
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>>? we're back join bid "the washington post" e.j. dionne, republican senator orrin hatch, of utah, former democratic congressman harold ford jr. and rich lowry of the national review. welcome to all of you. senator hatch, you heard secretary sebelius. so, what's going to happen here? don't be partisan. be analytical. victory, defeat or something in
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between? >> it may be one of those three. depends on whether they continue to abuse the rules. you know, the filibuster rule has been around since, really, the turn of the last century. one person could stop the whole senate since 1806. there were a lot of founding fathers who voted for that. on the other hand, the reconciliation rule which they are going to use, in fact, i just had this quote from senator durbin. he said we will be testing some reconciliation rules and provisions that have never been tested before. i think that's exactly what they are going the do. depends whether they can pull it off. >> we're going to get to reconciliation in that debate in a moment. e.j., where are we? is this victory defeat or something in between that the president achieves? >> i don't think there is anything in between. i do want to get back to reconciliation argument. i think the bill is going to pass. i think at the bill will pass,
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partly for political reasons, the democrats have to prove they can govern. this is the centerpiece. if they can't get it now, i think they will get clobbered in the election. but they are also going to get it passed because what underlies this are two things, one, this bill provides coverage for 30 million people. and that's really important. but the second reason s lots of people with health insurance now are going to lose it if we don't do anything. there is a report out of wall street last week that showed that insurance companies are jacking up their rates because in a lot of market there is is no competition. and they are willing to lose some people, drop people from coverage, because they can make more profit with higher rates. if we don't do something about this system, a lot of employers won't be able to afford covering their employees. >> harold ford, you have been in congress. this is a question of process, not just reconciliation, that budget measure. how do the no votes become yes votes in the house? there were 39 no votes among house democrats, there could be
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11 more that become no over this abortion language which you heard secretary sebelius address. how do they get the votes? >> two ways. first, democrats in the senate were able to convince some senate republicans, scott brown, boyneovich and a few others to vote in favor of a jobs bill that senator hatch and schumer put a key role in putting together. you have to find those areas where you can bring people over. i think e.j.'s points are well taken t. challenge is if there is vote for reconciliation, if there were votes in reconciliation it probably would have been done t. question is if there are not enough votes to pass by recciliation you reach out to the democrats and you begin to reach out to some republicans. when lbj and the republican leader worked to pass civil righ legislation they worked together. maybe that's the president and the team now can find ways to bring a few republicans over and if you have to vote with the reconciliation vote, wouldn't it be amazing if you lost a few democrats and picked up a few
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republicans. it might make it easier. >> amazing. >> how about a miracle. >> i don't put amazing out of reach. warren buffett was on a sister network and said if plan a we have to accept. if plan b is the option which is the senate bill. really a plan c is needed. might be plan c, a reconciliation approach could be adopted if we found ways to win some republicans over, hold onto the core of democrats and pass a meaningful reform bill. >> the problem for democrats, rich, is what i said to secretary sebelius. the president said. everything has been said we know everything we need to know t. public opposes the reform. that is what they deal with. they have a massive reform bill. they can't pick it apart just yet. what happened? >> they have to try to force it through on partisan muscle. they will come down with the full force of the party and the president on every member and nancy pelosi is going to channel
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in the battle i don't order you to attack, i order you to die. and democrats seem to think if they pass this they are going to put it behind them. they put it back in front of em again. this will be a debate for years because this bill has serious legitimacy problems. the partisan nature of the votes, the rotten deals that have been part of the process, now reconciliation, on top of that, then the sheer unpopularity. tom daschle said long ago do this in a bipartisan way. think he cited the example of australia where they had very narrow votes for health care reform and then it was repealed and they went back and forth until they got consensus. >> let's get to reconciliation which budget reconciliation means you have a separate bill here that would only need a simple majority that would just deal with the spending provisions of health care. you two had words about this on the pages of "the washington post." and senator hatch, let me put a portion of what you wrote on the
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screen. the use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation against the will of the american people would be unprecedented in scope. and the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balance, corrode the legislate of the process and damage the prospects of bipartisanship. it e.j., your response included this. i'm disappointed in hatch, co-sponsor of two of my favorite bills. one created the state children's health insurance program, the other signed last year by obama broadly expanded service opportunities. hatch worked on both with his dear friend the late edward m. kennedy after which the service bill was named. it was kennedy you'll recall who insisted that health care was a fundamental right, not a privilege. it's not zwrit use reconciliation. it would be immoral to do oths ear wise and let a phony argument about process get in the way of health coverage for 30 million americans. discuss. >> democrats, this is not a
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fight between republicans and democrats in a real sense. it's between democrats and the people out there. 58% of the people are against this bill. and very few are for it. the fact of the matter is, they are going to abuse the reconciliation rules and let me tell you. the reconciliation rules have never been used for such sweeping social legislation like this. this is one-sixth of the american economy. it's sweeping in effect. and there have been three sweeping social -- not sweeping but social bills that have been approved through reconciliation. one was of course the welfare reform that had 78 positive votes. huge bipartisan vote. another was the s-chip bill, my bill with senator kennedy, that had 85 votes. the third one was college tuition and that had i think something like 78 votes. the fact of the matter is that it has never been done before,
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never been used before, to do this. it's very, very dangerous. it's going to cause a lot of problems and in the end you're going to -- let's look at one other thing. the senat bill was passed, e.j. seems to accept the fact that the house bill was passed but there are two different bills. now they are going to take the senate bill, they say, but if they had the votes it would have been voted on. they don't have the votes. i suspect they are going to manipulate the rules further in ways that were never contemplated in order to get this dog thugh. the 2711-page dog. >> first of all, i find it astonishing that so many republicans who when president bush surged troops into iraq against the polls said this is a courageous act and when president obama tries to push a health care bill against the polls this is a terrible thing, this is not a consistent argument. several points the health bill thatment obama will sign got 60 votes in the
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senate. that's the bill the house would pass. the only thing that's being talked about here are amendments that would be passed through reconciliation dealing with money which is in the tradition of conciliation. second, senator hatch keeps saying this is unprecedented in scope. and that you need bipartisan support. there is a chart in the new york times today put together by tom mann of brookings and their colleagues. there are seven instances where reconciliation was used in cases where the bill got fewer than 60 votes. five of those were done by republican senates. i didn't hear senator hatch complaining about that. two of those involve president bush's tax cuts which added $1.7 trillion to our deficit. now, if that isn't significant policy change i don't know what is. there was noomplaint about that. so with senator hatch saying it's okay to use reconciliation to pass tax cuts for the wealthy, but it's just terrible
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to use it if you're going to extend health care coverage, i say let's not talk about a phony process argument, let's talk about the problems people have with health care. >> they were -- they had bipartan votes. in two of them, in 1993, clinton's bill, yeah, they got reconciliation on purely partisan vote but congress changed to republican t. republicans did the same thing and i think it was 2005, got a bill through just on a partisan vote and it changed to democrat. the fact of the matter is you -- >> talking about bipartisanship -- >> picked up one or two democrats. >> you cannot ignore the fact we're talking about the first time in history sweeping social legislation will be passed if they get their way, by a totally partisan vote one-sixth of the american economy. if we do that katie bar the door. i got to tell you.
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>> it's the republican party were not sitting there being obstructionist, what senator hatch is saying is if republicans unite and say we won't vote for this, and you need bipartisanship he is saying democrats can't govern. if $1.7 trillion in cuts isn't significant. >> rich lowry, the question is whether this amounts to petty politics on either side, depending on your point of view, or whether this is a leadership issue. >> a process argument like these are always festivals of partisan hypocrassy is. no one is concerned with the rights of the minority unless they are in the minority. some of those pundits saying reconciliation is great we're defending the philly buster during the bush years. i think the most important thing to know, they no longer have 60 votes in the senate so they have to do an end run around this process. and if reconciliation isn't so importt to this, fine. let's do a conference committee,
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work out the differences and have the house pass it and the senate pass it. they no longer can do that because the bill was rejected by the public as demonstrated in massachusetts so they need the end run. >> final point on this piece, which is doesn't the president have a bigger problem if he doesn't get the reform he's after than on taking a hit politically for the process? >> you're right. results are more important than process. the only ideology a majority of americans are concerned about right now is the result. two, reconciliation is a rule that can be used and invoked in the senate. if democrats have the votes, they should move forward with it. what senator hatch is saying is simple, if you do that you trun risk of political backlash when democrat desire it in '93, it was the right thing when clinton passed that. it helped us grow. republicans did it in 2005. there might abpolitical switch. what i hear e.j. saying that is a risk they have to take. at the end of the day the country could care less about all of this. they want an answer and at the
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end of the day jobs will decide this midterm election. >> we're going to come back and talk about the political fallout. i want to ask a point i brought up. number one goal in health care reform was to bend the cost curve to bring down costs. the likes of warren buffett and others said they aren't. it should have been a cost issue, expand access later. what's truth, what is fiction? >> there are a lot of measures in this bill to hold down costs. some of them are painful which is why it's hard to assemble votes for this. there will never be enough cost controls for everybody, and the more you put in the more votes you lose. i think the cbo says that congressional budget office says over time this bill will reduce the deficit. that's evidence we have. an you can postpone ensuring, providing insurance for the uninsured forever, if you just say well, we got to fix everything else and then get all of these people insured. on rich's point about process, i looked at all of the columns i
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looked at criticizing the bush tax cut. i argued about the merits of the tax cuts and i think instead of talking about process we ought to talk about the merits of the health plan. >> did write a stirring column about the nuclear option in defense of the senate and -- as an anti-institution. i believe -- one last thing. the point you're saying is republicans are united, democrats can't govern is what they say. it would have been relatively easy and senator hatch would be an expert on this because he worked so closely with ted kennedy on health care issues to get 65 or 70 votes for a major health care bill in the senate. not this, but 100, $200 billion more for medicaid, maybe some version of this plan b we've seen reporting about that the white house after massachusetts came wake-up where they covered 15 million, a quarter of the cost. you do something like that and you would have ticked off 5 or 10 republicans in the senate.
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>> senator bachus holding hands and got nowhere. >> a quick point. >> i was a member of the gang of seven. he was so restricted by the democrat process that he couldn't really do anything for -- i had to leave out of honor because i couldn't -- i walked out of there and trash everything they were doing so i left out of order. the other republicans gradually left, too. there has been no real effort to try and get together on all of the things we can get together on, it's just been take it or leave it. toyota has done a lot of research and a lot of work, and we've been open 24 hours a day -- 7 days a week. and we've made a tremendous amount of progress. you know, safety and reliability is top priority. i mean i got a family, too. i got a mother, a grandmother, kids, and we all drive in these cars. i am 100% confident in the product. [ male announcer ] we're grateful to technicians like ronny who are helping us provide you with safe and reliable vehicles.
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are you in good hands? most people try to get rid of algae, and we're trying to grow it. the algae are very beautiful. they come in blue or red, golden, green. algae could be converted into biofuels... that we could someday run our cars on. in using algae to form biofuels, we're not competing with the food supply. and they absorb co2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem, as well. we're making a big commitment to finding out... just how much algae can help to meet... the fuel demands of the world. we're back to continue our roundtable discussion with a lively bunch this morning. harold ford, a lot of headlines out of new york this week. one had to do with you in that you decided not to take on senator gillibrand and challenge her senate seat this fall.
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you wrote an op-ed explaining your decision. the cruel twist of course is that the party boss who is tried to intimidate me so i wouldn't even think about running against senator gillibrand are the same people responsible for putting democratic control of the senate at risk. talk about a shot across the bow. what are you talking about? >> my party needs to understand there is growing, if not a crescendo of concern about job, taxes and the economy. there is great concern even with 36,000 jobs lost which is less than months before but there is a concern at the platform, the growth platform going forward that will create new jobs and provide economic security for families is not ther i want everyone to have health care but i can assure you someone who spent two months traveling a state that is vital to the nation's economy i would argue the global economy, new york ty, new york state, voters are more concerned about their own checkbooks, their pocketbooks and wallets. i hope whatever happens on health care that we get it done and if the focus can shift to
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how america grows going forward, how we maintain our leadership position globally. more important, how you get the next generation of americans a chance to compete and win in a global economy. that's being voiced all across the state. >> who are the party bosses endangering the majority? >> i think there has been a unilateral focus on one or two issues that, again, don't necessarily rank at the top of where a majority of new yorkers, overwhelming majority of new yorkers what they are concerned b. second, david, this restoring faith in government is often used in political campaigns but in new york with the dysfunction at the state level w the concern, legitimate concerns about the governor's ability to govern t concern that many in new york have even about members of congress, and then when you couple that with the backdrop, a massive backdrop of what's happening in washington, as much as i appreciate the conversation it's informed, it's the right kind of conversation but for most americans they tune it out. >> buttering us up. >> it's all abo a process that
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they want to know how does this process result in better opportunity and a better security and better future for me. that's what's missing. >> could you have won the primary. >> i believe we could have but it would have been such an ugly one i did not want to help a republican win a seat in new york which at the end of the day could determine the majority makeup of the united states senate. >> now that you won't challenge her, do you endorse senator gillibrand? are you 100% behind her? >> there will come a time all those have to be answered. i'm a democrat, i'm an independent democrat as i shared at the bottom of the column that you put up for the single reason that i believe when people give politicians jobs it's a special responsibility. if you don't take it seriously, one of the reasons i think governor paterson has to think seriously whether he can govern f. you cannot govern the special responsibility voters bestowed on you, if you can't live up to it you should move on allow
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someone else. >> should governor step down? >> if he can't govern, i don't know how you govern in this arrangement or for that matter in this climate. you consider not only the dysfunction but the fact the budget is due in less than a month, you consider the fact that almost half the voters in the state believe he should step down. how do you govern in that? that's a question he'll have to answer. >> not just good paterson who is the governor of new york, facing a number of investigations on ethics issues and whether he intervened into a domestic dispute, you also got charlie rangel, rich lowry, stepped down as head of the ways and means committee. and eric masa of new york will be stepping down as well because of aeng. what does this mean in an already difficult climate? >> just adds fuel to the anti-washington fire, obviously. i agree with what harold was
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saying. the very worst thing for a politician or for political party is to -- the appearance that they are not listening. i think that's the risk now to democrats on health care, because they are going ahead no matter what. i think it's the risk on the economy because they haven't really pivoted the jobs as president obama put it at the beginning of the year. and on the ethics, you know, it's beginning to look a lot like 2006 and i think nancy pelosi came in talking about the most ethical congress but had no commitment to taking on the old bold in her party. there is the late john murtha who personified the practice around ear marks and charlie rangel a sad case of somne who thinks he deserved a lifestyle beyond his income and began to cut corners. >> we're talking about performance as well among democrats and the president. and senator hatch, the republican national committee, the finance director, did a power point presentation to donors and the like. i'll put it up on the screen.
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this is the imagery. how to run against the democrats. it had this offensive picture of the president and socialism, the joker from the film, and had other unflattering images of democratic leaders. is this the way republicans are going to get back in power? >> there is no excuse for that type of stuff. i don't agree with that type of thing. i think if more democrats were like harold ford we wouldn't have half of the problems we have today. he is open, he's willing to discuss, he's realizes it take was to parties on very, very important legislation to make things work. i don't agree with that type of stuff. and some -- the way i understand it some junior guy there raising funds tried that as a fundraising tool. >> i don't know how junior he was. you think -- >> that's junior to me. the fact of the matter to me is that it shouldn't have passed on. i don't want to condemn somebody but the fact of the matter is i'm ashamed of that. >> should michael steele remain head of the rnc?
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>> i don't know about that f. he did i would be very concerned. i like michael steele. >> you have confidence in him? >> i do. he's a fine guy. he made mistakes like everybody does, but he's a good face for our party. i think he's articulate, smart, he has a lot on the ball. he's going to get criticized no matter what he does but he was one of the first to come out and say that was irresponsible. >> e.j., health care reform, whether it's success or failure what's it going to mean for the midterm race. >> what harold ford goes back to tennessee and runs for the senate he is going to use that endorsement from senator hatch. >> if i run again it will be from new york. >> i think that's a powerful endorsement in tennessee. health care reform, i think really is everything to the democrats this year because i think you've seen a year in which -- the country's discouraged by the economy. any president would be in trouble, ronald reagan was in trouble with this level of
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unemployment. and it was very hard to get through this congress and i think it will ultimately pass because they have got to show they can govern. and my view also is once you have a health bill that does particular thing, people can say you know, there are no more rescissions. immediately your kids can stay on the family health policy until they are 26. there are a lot of specific things that people can go out to defend. you can only defend a proposal once it's out. there i think it will be a much better debate when we can argue about a real thing and say what's this doing for people and yes, harold ford is right, jobs is t issue. >> senator hatch, i want to mention iraq. it's an important day where there are elections. there has been some violenc as we've seen, we see the aftermath pictures of that. a delicate democracy. do you think the united states should stick to its time table for complete troop withdrawal? >> let's put it this way. i think there is more evidence that this is working, more evidence that they now have a government, more evidence that
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they are interested in voting, more evidence that this country can survive. we ought to do everything in our power to make sure that continues. i'm for doing that. just making sure it continues. it's a real good thing for the [ indistinct talking on p.a. ] okay, we're going to get going right away. [ announcer ] he's never met an appendix he couldn't fix! the abdomen-ator dr. bob bergowitz! yeah, woo! [ announcer ] she's the queen of clean! the 2009 surgeon of the year, dr. nancy mendelsohn! [ male announcer ] doctors and nurses are true heroes. at ge, we're working to give them the innovation, fresh thinking, and advanced technology they need to keep bringing better health to more people. are you ready, mr. randall? let's do this! [ crowd cheering ] ♪ ♪ but i am holding half an acre ♪
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that's all for today. i'll be away next sunday, but tom brokaw will be here in my place. among his guests former senior adviser to president bush, karl rove. he has the new book coming out called "courage and kons." his time in the white house. and a political roundtable incl with 4g from sprint, i can download files up to 10x faster than 3g... outside. i can stream the movie airplane to my cell phone... at the airport. i can have a crystal-clear videoconference with my clients... ...muffin basket or something... ...while working offsite, or share five high-speed connections for online gaming... while enjoying the great outdoors.
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